Fighting Weight Creep

Holiday eating can add pounds as the years go by—but a coleus extract can help.

November/December 2015

by Lisa James


You say it every year around Thanksgiving: “I’m taking it easy this time.” None of Aunt Betty’s to-die-for cheesecake. None of your mother’s famous (well, famous in your family) rice pudding. No shortcake squares from the lady in the office two doors down.

Riiight.

No one said it would be easy to make it through the holiday season relatively unscathed. There are some commonsense steps you can take: getting enough sleep and exercise, not skimping on breakfast, having healthy snacks before parties, accepting only tasting portions (maybe just a sliver of cheesecake?). What’s more, there are natural aids, including a species of coleus, that can help make your war against those extra pounds a little more winnable.

Incremental Increase

The good news about holiday weight gain: It’s generally not as much as you may think. In a 2000 New England Journal of Medicine study, participants gained little over a pound during the six weeks after Thanksgiving. That’s much less than the five or more pounds people had been assumed to put on during that time frame.

However, there’s also bad news. For starters, volunteers in the NEJM study who were already overweight gained the most; 14% did pick up those extra five pounds. What’s more, the holidays account for only half of the average American’s annual weight gain, and the study found that extra weight hung on through the following September. In other words, the gain is cumulative: two pounds every year, after year, after year…

Coleus and Company

One way to stop annual weight creep is to encourage the body to break down fat and build up its lean mass, or everything that isn’t fat. Since muscle tissue makes up the bulk of lean mass, having more of it gives the body a sleek look. But more importantly, increasing lean mass while decreasing fat pays numerous health dividends and increases overall well-being.

That’s where coleus comes in. One species in this showy plant family, C. forskohlii, has been valued for years in India’s Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for heart and respiratory problems, among other ailments. Modern researchers have found one of this herb’s compounds, forskolin, increases cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which helps the body break down fat for use in theromogenesis, or heat production—and more fat breakdown equals greater lean mass.

People who have taken forskolin in studies have reported losing both body fat and weight; some said they felt less fatigued and hungry as well. In addition, reductions in levels of both fasting blood sugar and oxidative stress were seen among diabetic rats given forskolin for eight weeks (International Journal of Medical Sciences 5/14).

Forskolin works best when used with complementary therapies. Raspberry ketones also promote fat burning. The herb rhodiola has shown an ability to enhance exercise capacity, while green tea extract supports peak metabolism. A plant fiber called inulin impedes the absorption of sugars from food, which helps regulate glucose levels. And an amino acid-based formulation called Synaptose helps cut food cravings, especially for sweets.

Keeping your fingers crossed isn’t the best way to avoid end-of-year weight gain. Have a plan going in—and support it with supplements such as forskolin.

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